Today's story begins in 1867, with the birth of Louis Semple Clarke.
Clarke would become a successful mechanical engineer, with several inventions and innovations to his name, including the porcelain insulated spark plug, the first successful oil circulation system, and perfection of the drive shaft system.
But the subject of today's history comes into being on October 21, 1897, when Clarke founds the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company in Pittsburgh, PA. Clarke would move the company from Pittsburgh to Ardmore, PA in 1899, and would also change the name to the Autocar Company. 1899 would be an eventful year for Autocar, as they would build the first motor truck produced for sale in North America. Soon after, in 1901, they would build the first shaft driven automobile in North America.
The early Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle/Autocar Company built automobiles as well as commercial vehicles, but in 1907 it was decided to wind down automobile manufacturing and focus on commercial vehicles. Several automobile models would be produced by the company until production ceased in 1911.
Through the next few decades Autocar would successfully market their commercial vehicles, including several signifcant military models, such as the chassis for the Canadian "Armoured Autocar" during World War 1, and producing over 50,000 vehicles for World War 2, including half-tracks.
Between the wars, Louis Semple Clark sold his interest and retired in 1929.
Since opening the factory in Ardmore, PA way back in 1899, Autocar would build their vehicles there, but in 1953 the company was sold to White Motor Company, who would open a new factory in Exton, PA and close the Ardmore facility, in 1954.
Though no longer invloved with the company, Louis Semple Clarke would pass away in 1957.
The Exton facility would only last until 1980 when White again moved production, this time to their own Ogden, Utah factory.
Throughout these years, Autocar would focus on the severe duty and vocational sector, but did dabble in over the road trucks, such as the ACL64.
The following year, in 1981, Volvo bought White, and would go on to buy General Motor's heavy commercial truck division in 1987.
The next few years would see Volvo and Autocar appear interchangeably on the same model, sometimes both names on one truck, along with White and GMC getting the same treatment, with Volvo and/or White/GMC names appearing on the same model.
At the dawn of the new millenium (2000), Volvo bought Renault's North American operations, which included Mack. This created a potential problem for Volvo - they owned Autocar and Mack, which gave them an almost total monopoly on the refuse truck market.
So to avoid being labeled as being "anti-competitive", Volvo sold Autocar to Grand Vehicle Works Holding (GVW Group), who're headquartered in Highland Park, Illinois.
GVW Group still owns Autocar, which is now an independant manufacturer again after 50 years, and now build trucks in Hagerstown, Indiana and Birmingham, Alabama, which is also their current HQ.. Today a large portion of their business is refuse trucks and switchers, but they have recently realeased a new severe duty vocational chassis, and also offer a medium duty cabover chassis.
Check out their website for more info on their current offerings~
That's all for today, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed!